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Notre Dame Prep blanks Cranbrook-Kingswood in tournament opener

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Game Info

Soccer - Girls - 5/30/2017 

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 4
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 0
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PONTIAC – The Pontiac Notre Dame Prep Fighting Irish opened defense of their Division 2 state title with a convincing 4-0 win over the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood Cranes Tuesday evening.

Notre Dame needed a little time to solve the defensive system of Cranbrook, but once the Fighting Irish got going, there was no stopping them and Notre Dame completely dominated the ball.

“They (Cranbrook) decided they were really going to defend a bit more and not really stretch the game. We kind of prepared for that and the first 10 minutes try to feel it out and figure out what they were going to give us,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Stachura said.

Notre Dame got on the board with 21:10 left in the first half when Justina Gaynor sprang Itala Gemelli in behind the Cranbrook defense. Gemelli’s initial shot was blocked, but she lunged at the rebound and redirected it into the corner. Just over five minutes later, Notre Dame made it 2-0 when Celia Gaynor set up her sister Justina, and Justina chipped one over the charging goalkeeper.

The Cranbrook defense played well, particularly senior captain Kaela Mali and freshman left back Maya Lenz. The Cranes were generally able to force the Fighting Irish to shoot from outside and to limit the overall quality of the Notre Dame’s chances.

“The team you’re playing against is the defending state champs, and I think Notre Dame Prep is every bit as good as they were last year. They are a well-coached team,” Cranbrook head coach Chad O’Kulich said. “I thought our team played very well today. I know it’s not the result that we wanted, but I thought team defense we actually played really well as a unit.”

Even so, Notre Dame possessed the ball so much that eventually the quantity of shots was just too much for Cranbrook. Notre Dame finished with 29 total shots, including 18 on goal. Cranes goalkeeper Alex Heffner turned in a solid performance, making 14 saves, including one on an early breakaway.

Notre Dame put the game away with second-half goals from Elle McGuire and Payton Williams.

With the win, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep improves to 14-3-3 and advances to Thursday’s semifinal, where the Fighting Irish will face Goodrich.

“They (Cranbrook) are well-coached. It was good to get a win,” Stachura said. “I think we did a pretty good job top to bottom, and we’ll see who our next opponent is on Thursday and go from there. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play here on Saturday. That’s all you can ask for, one at a time.”

Cranbrook finishes the year 9-5-1.

“We’re real pleased with the season,” O’Kulich said. “It was a fun season. This has been a great group of girls with great senior leadership. This is a team where the chemistry has been really positive. It has been a pleasure to be a part of it each day. The only unfortunate part of today is that our season is over, and we can’t be part of it anymore. But we’re proud of these ladies. “


CK 0 0 - 0

NDP 2 2 - 4

First Half: 1, NDP, Itala Gemelli (Justina Gaynor); 2, NDP, J. Gaynor (Celia Gaynor)

Second Half: 3, NDP, Elle McGuire (Cassidy Wiest); 4, NDP, Payton Williams

GOALKEEPERS: Cranbrook-Kingswood, Alex Heffner (14 saves); Notre Dame Prep, Kathleen Mehall (1 save), Shannon Wood (1 save)

Last Updated: 5/30/2017 8:55:17 PM EST

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